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KCRA Comment on Commissioners Terms of Reference

KCRA Comment on Commissioners Terms of Reference as Announced.

In the opinion of the Kaipara Citizens and Ratepayers Association (KCRA), the Minister of Local Government, in his terms of reference for the Commissioners, has ignored the calls from citizen and ratepayer groups for an in depth, fully independent and retrospective enquiry as to how the Kaipara District got into such a dire situation in the first place.

KCRA has previously written to the Minister and asked:

• that as well as addressing the future, the Commissioners are directed not to sweep the past under the carpet. It is neither fair nor reasonable to burden citizens and ratepayers with unsustainable and illegal debt when those who incurred it are not held accountable.

• that the Commissioners independently, fully and transparently investigate the actions and inactions of the Council’s former and current members, employees, contractors, consultants, advisors and auditors, and Audit New Zealand.

• that the Commissioners should be without conflict of duties so they can seek redress, to the fullest extent possible, for negligent or unauthorised or wrongful conduct, wherever it lies, even if recovery is small in relation to our losses.

• that the Commissioners pursue the option of a loan from the Crown under section 72 of the Public Finance Act 1989 to alleviate the debt

Is it fair and just that ratepayers should have to pay extra unaffordable rates required because of illegal loans, or actions? KCRA notes that the Terms off Reference ‘phase one’ directs that the Commissioners are to:

undertake actions to enforce the payment of 2012/13 rates and any unpaid rates from previous years;

This directive has the potential to backfire on the Minster with respect to co-operation and if ANY or ALL of the rates struck are deemed illegal when challenged in the High Court. KCRA requests that the Commissioner’s terms of reference will be promptly amended and a “Commission of Enquiry” approved to establish responsibilities and recoveries to reduce the Kaipara District debt and rates. Failure to do so will further polarise ratepayers, and make matters even more challenging for the Commissioners and the Minister of Local Government.

Any further deterioration of the present rates standoff would be disastrous. From the haste the Minister of Local Government has shown since receiving the Review Team's interim report, and subsequent appointment of commissioners, KCRA cannot but question if these responses are a possible indication that the Council’s financial position is unsustainable?

KCRA therefore cannot understand why the Minister does not initiate the enquiries ratepayers called for. Is it because one or more government agencies might be found at fault? Should this be the case, then the Commissioners have seemingly not been appointed to act in the best interests of ratepayers.

Consequently, a massive ratepayer petition re-enforcing KCRA’s demands to the Minister is to be launched within the next week or two. KCRA expects that most ratepayers and citizens in Kaipara will support and sign it.

KCRA believes that this petition is critical to the Kaipara’s future. It is to be made available in most communities in the Kaipara. A copy can then be obtained by e-mailing kcrassn@gmail.com, or if you are a ratepayer who usually lives outside of Kaipara District you will shortly find a copy online at the KCRA website www.kcra.org.nz

Ron Manderson


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